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MG HS +EV 2022 review: Excite

  • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
  • Battery Capacity16.1kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Range63km NEDC
  • Plug TypeType 2
  • AC charge rate3.3kW (as-tested)
  • Motor output90kW/230Nm
  • Engine output119kW/250Nm
  • Combined output189kW/370Nm
  • Efficiency1.7L/100km
Complete Guide to MG HS

Like your favourite TV show from the ‘90s, MG’s high-definition re-boot in the last few years has proven to be full of surprises.

Not only has it earned itself a spot in the top 10 automakers in Australia (the first Chinese-backed brand to ever do so) but the automaker has also proven it has more than one trick up its sleeve.

It found astounding success with its budget MG3 hatch and ZS SUV, and has played an important role in bringing the cost of electrification down in Australia.

The latest offering, and the car we’re looking at for this review, is the now even cheaper plug-in hybrid HS mid-size SUV.

Question is, at a price which can compete with 'self-charging' hybrid tech, should you choose an option you can plug-in? Stay with us to find out.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

MG now calls its plug-in hybrid cars +EV. It says this is to help demystify the technology, by showing it’s essentially a combustion vehicle, plus an electric vehicle component.

If you ask me, ‘plus EV’ is actually more confusing, but the point is this new version brings the price down once again.

This is because the plug-in version of the HS originally launched in 2021, only as the top-spec Essence. The Essence is still one of the most affordable plug-in hybrids you can buy in Australia, but the new mid-grade Excite trim we’re looking at for this review brings it down further.

Wearing a drive-away price-tag of $46,990, the strategy here is to offer the more expensive plug-in hybrid technology at the cost of a mid-grade self-charging hybrid RAV4.

Elsewhere the HS Excite competes with higher grades of the currently combustion-only Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, but the big threat for this car will likely emerge in the form of the self-charging hybrid Haval H6 which launces in the coming months.

The HS is immediately impressive in terms of its raw numbers, though, with a massive 16.6kWh battery pack granting it a relatively long 63km purely electric driving range (although this is to the more lenient NEDC standard).

10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. (Image: Tom White) 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. (Image: Tom White)

Aside from its electric features, there’s an appealing list of spec items included, with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, a 12.3-inch digital dash cluster, keyless entry with push-start ignition, six-way power seat adjust for the driver, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and a pretty good reversing camera.

What do you miss out on picking the more affordable Excite PHEV over the top-spec Essence? 18-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof, improved seat trim, and, disappointingly, LED headlights. The Excite only ships with old-school halogen bulbs.

It’s also worth noting the hybrid RAV4s can be all-wheel drive at this price, while the +EV variants of the HS are front-drive only. Still, this mid-size SUV is one of the most affordable PHEVs on the market.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

MG’s success is not just in being one of the most affordable but making affordability so damn good looking.

Taking cues from Mazda’s successful glitzy design formula, the HS impresses with a chrome-embossed grille, chiselled light clusters, combining with a curvaceous bonnet for an eye-catching face.

Down the side the curvy lines continue, undulating over the wheelarches, to a well resolved rear-end, complete with tidy light clusters and even dual-exhaust pipes.

Look at this car a little too long, though, and you start to find more than a few flaws with its design.

17-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White) 17-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tom White)

Sure, it’s eye catching, but the 17-inch alloys do a pretty ordinary job of filling those big wheelarches, and there’s something a little off about the ride height.

You can also see the rear suspension control arms sitting well below the base of the rear, a reminder the HS is an SUV based on the MG6 sedan.

Suffice it to say, while it looks great at a few paces, up close it misses out on some of the nuance and poise of its rivals.

Inside follows the same formula of the outside, with attractive curvy lines, a sporty-looking steering wheel and a pair of dazzling screens.

Inside follows the same formula of the outside, with attractive curvy lines, a sporty-looking steering wheel and a pair of dazzling screens. (Image: Tom White) Inside follows the same formula of the outside, with attractive curvy lines, a sporty-looking steering wheel and a pair of dazzling screens. (Image: Tom White)

Again, though, look closer and you’ll see this otherwise modern-looking interior is not as impressive beneath the surface.

The seats look plush but feel cheap with vinyl trim, and the same goes for the door cards and centre console. All have soft-touch surfaces which, in reality, are paper thin. It still beats having hard plastic in the doors, though, so context is everything.

The plastic trims throughout are also hit-and-miss, with some looking great, and others hard and nasty.

The +EV versions of the HS ditch the mechanical shifter in the centre console for an electronic one, which combines nicely with the digital dash to make the cabin feel more modern than even some more upmarket rivals.

How practical is the space inside?

There are some particularly strange things about the HS’s cabin when it comes to practicality.

The seats are perhaps the biggest issue. Not only are they clad in a cheap feeling vinyl, but the seating position is very high, and you hardly sink into the seat base, leaving you with the impression you’re sitting on the car rather than in it. Weird.

Visibility is great out the sides of this car, but with the seating position the way it is, I feel like my head is close to the roof and the windscreen has a narrow letterbox aspect. This is complicated further by the rear vision mirror, which sticks a fair way down into your field of view.

The front of the cabin feels plenty wide enough, though, and there are some other practicality wins, like the multimedia screen which is easily within reach.

Its limited resolution is a benefit here, with the touch elements being big and easy to reach while you’re concentrating on the road, but the stock software is clumsily laid out and slow, taking a full second or two to react to some interactions.

The front of the cabin feels plenty wide enough, though, and there are some other practicality wins, like the multimedia screen which is easily within reach. (Image: Tom White) The front of the cabin feels plenty wide enough, though, and there are some other practicality wins, like the multimedia screen which is easily within reach. (Image: Tom White)

This is especially notable as the entire climate system is operated via the touchscreen.

The cabin offers up decent storage. There are big bottle holders in the doors as part of a larger bin, and there are a further two large bottle holders in the centre console with a removable divider.

The armrest box opens to reveal a small storage area, which also has an internal vent for the air-conditioning.

Under the shortcut buttons up front there’s a flip-open tray with two USB outlets and a 12V port, but this little opening is so tiny it’s no good to store any kind of object. It’s also impossible to close the flip cover if you have something plugged in.

The seats can recline slightly, and amenities are even impressive with two pockets on the backs of the front seats, large bottle holders in the doors, dual adjustable air vents, and two USB ports for rear passengers. (Image: Tom White) The seats can recline slightly, and amenities are even impressive with two pockets on the backs of the front seats, large bottle holders in the doors, dual adjustable air vents, and two USB ports for rear passengers. (Image: Tom White)

The rear seat is one of the HS’s best attributes. Compared to even the front seats, the rear passenger space is enormous, with ample width, headroom, and legroom.

The seats can recline slightly, and amenities are even impressive with two pockets on the backs of the front seats, large bottle holders in the doors, dual adjustable air vents, and two USB ports for rear passengers.

Of special note is the strangely lavish drop-down centre armrest, which is clad in soft trim and has a flip-open tray and dual bottle holders.

  • 2022 MG HS Excite I Boot 2022 MG HS Excite I Boot
  • 2022 MG HS Excite I Boot 2022 MG HS Excite I Boot

Rear seat space comes at a bit of a cost to boot capacity, though. The HS offers 451 litres, which is a little off-the-pace for the mid-size SUV segment. The rear seats intrude into the space a fair bit, and the floor is quite high.

It fit our three-piece CarsGuide luggage set, but only just, and it required removing the retractable luggage cover. Unlike the top-spec Essence, the Excite does not have a power tailgate.

No spare wheel in +EV versions of the HS, with the underfloor space housing a repair kit and a small cutaway for charging paraphernalia.

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?

This is where plug-in hybrids tend to get a bit complicated, so bear with us.

The MG HS +EV pairs a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor on the front axle. The two drive the front wheels via a new 10-speed traditional torque converter automatic transmission, instead of the dual-clutch which features in the combustion-only versions of this car.

The MG HS + EV pairs a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor on the front axle. (Image: Tom White) The MG HS + EV pairs a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor on the front axle. (Image: Tom White)

The engine produces 119kW/250Nm on its own, while the electric motor produces 90kW/230Nm. The two combined produce 189kW/370Nm, making the +EV by far the most powerful HS on the market, capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds.

How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?

The HS +EV backs its electric features with a relatively large 16.6kWh battery pack, allowing it a purely electric driving range rated at 63km.

This is on the more lenient NEDC standard, though, and our car was reporting between 40–45km on a full charge. Still pretty good for a plug-in hybrid mid-size SUV.

As a result of this well-supported system, +EV versions of the HS have an official/combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 1.7L/100km, but as with all plug-in hybrids this will depend on how you use it.

+ EV versions of the HS have an official/combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 1.7L/100km, but as with all plug-in hybrids this will depend on how you use it. (Image: Tom White) + EV versions of the HS have an official/combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 1.7L/100km, but as with all plug-in hybrids this will depend on how you use it. (Image: Tom White)

On my week-long test, the car returned a figure of 3.9L/100km, with the caveat I did run it out of charge on more than one occasion. The HS’s turbocharged engine requires mid-grade 95RON unleaded.

Take a moment to appreciate this mid-sizer still used less fuel than a tiny hatchback, but charging is a less impressive story.

MG says the +EV will charge to 100 per cent from the reserve level in five ours on a 7.0kW charging connection, the only problem is the numbers don’t add up.

The HS +EV backs its electric features with a relatively large 16.6kWh battery pack, allowing it a purely electric driving range rated at 63km. (Image: Tom White) The HS +EV backs its electric features with a relatively large 16.6kWh battery pack, allowing it a purely electric driving range rated at 63km. (Image: Tom White)

If you divide 16.6 by five you get 3.3kW, which is the actual charging rate. For a battery this big, that’s too slow. To put it in perspective, it’s only slightly faster than if you were to charge it up from a wall socket, and makes this car best for those who can trickle charge it at home.

Even dragging out your grocery shop to, say, 2.5 hours, will only net you half this car’s battery, making it inconvenient if you need to rely on public charging to get by.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Although the Excite is the more affordable of the two +EV variants, it doesn’t miss out on any of MG’s active ‘Pilot’ safety suite.

This means it scores all the key items, from auto emergency braking (detects pedestrians at up to 64km/h and vehicles at up to 150km/h), plus lane keep assist with lane departure warning, to the rear-facing items including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The rear-facing items including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. (Image: Tom White) The rear-facing items including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. (Image: Tom White)

It also scores adaptive cruise control, which late last year received an update making it a bit less twitchy than in launch form.

Six airbags and the expected array of electronic braking, stability, and traction aids appear, but while combustion-only versions of the HS wear a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating to the 2019 standards, the +EV versions are excluded from this rating as they arrived later.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

MG has tweaked its ownership promise for its electrified models recently. While the brand generally follows in the footsteps of challenger brands like Kia by offering an ahead-of-the curve seven-year warranty, this has only just been extended to the +EV variants.

Strangely, there’s also a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty for the high-voltage battery components, which is a bit different from the industry standard eight-year/160,000km warranty.

Capped price servicing has also been added covering the duration of the warranty. Each visit at 12 monthly or 10,000km intervals costs between $265 and $968, for a yearly average of $403.14.

Not expensive, but also not at the cheap end of the spectrum.

What's it like to drive?

Okay, so once you get past the weird seating position we mentioned earlier, it's immediately apparent this hybrid version of the HS is the best to drive in the range.

The powerful electric motor in this car makes it so much smoother and easier to drive than the combustion car. It’s got quiet, smooth acceleration and a nice gentle regen braking, and you never even need to worry about what the transmission is doing.

This 10-speed automatic is so smooth it’s hard to tell what it’s doing at any given time, an out-of-sight improvement over the dual-clutch automatics which appear elsewhere in the range.

Where the HS isn’t as impressive is in the steering. It’s nicely weighted but a bit vague when it comes to feeling. I’m not super confident of what the front wheels are doing, and I feel like it doesn’t handle the additional weight from the big battery pack particularly well.

It feels comparatively top-heavy with a tendency towards mild understeer when you push it, missing some of the confidence its more established rivals have.

The ride is mixed. It’s generally soft, so it’s comfortable over smaller bumps, but when you hit big ones, it is evident the ride lacks a bit of control, because it will bounce around, and feel a little unsettled.

The powerful electric motor in this car makes it so much smoother and easier to drive than the combustion car. (Image: Tom White) The powerful electric motor in this car makes it so much smoother and easier to drive than the combustion car. (Image: Tom White)

This imbalanced ride and handling is one of MG’s weak spots generally, which is why I’m surprised the electric drivetrain is so sleek, even comparable to Toyota systems.

When it comes to controlling those electric driving functions the HS defaults to a hybrid mode, where it seems to use primarily electric drive at lower speeds, activating the engine automatically at higher speeds, or when the accelerator is more heavily applied.

The only issue I have with this mode is I’m not sure at times how or why it decides to run the engine. With rival systems you’ll get some kind of ‘eco’ indicator which gives you an idea of when the engine will activate, but in this car there’s just a percentage indicator on the dash, which isn’t too helpful.

Your only other drive mode option is to stick it in EV mode, which you can do via a button on the centre console. In this mode it will only use the electric motor, and it’s able to do this at quite high speeds, so even if you’ve got a bit of an expressway or something on your drive it won’t necessarily need combustion support. Meaning you can have genuinely fully electric driving if you’ve got somewhere to charge it up at either end.

There’s no combustion or charge mode like some plug-ins have, and there is also no way to control the regen braking, so it’s not as customisable as we’d like. And the regen tune is relatively mild, so it’s probably not as energy efficient as it could be, either.

Still, the hybrid systems are impressively smooth and as a result the +EV versions of the HS are simply the best in the range to drive by a solid margin.

  • DrivetrainPlug-in hybrid
  • Battery Capacity16.1kWh
  • Battery typeLithium-ion
  • Range63km NEDC
  • Plug TypeType 2
  • AC charge rate3.3kW (as-tested)
  • Motor output90kW/230Nm
  • Engine output119kW/250Nm
  • Combined output189kW/370Nm
  • Efficiency1.7L/100km
Complete Guide to MG HS

MG is quietly establishing itself as a champion of the electric space, with this HS mid-sizer offering a compelling list of specs with a long electric range in an attractive package.

It is still lacking in a few obvious areas, from driving dynamics to charging speed, but it’s doing its part at the asking price to at least make a plug-in hybrid alternative worth considering.

 

$36,990

Based on new car retail price

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